Get vaccinated against flu now to avoid having it and COVID-19 simultaneously, doctors say

Medical professionals are urging Australians to get their flu vaccinations now, so they are protected against the "serious prospect" of having influenza and COVID-19 at the same time.

Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid said that, last year, a record number of flu vaccinations were doled out across the country.

"We need to do the same again this year," he said.

"The message is simple: get your flu vaccine now.

"Winter is coming, and influenza remains a very serious illness, particularly for the vulnerable members of our community."

Australia saw the lowest number of influenza cases on record in 2020, and there have been few cases recorded over the past six months, following a record-high number in 2019.

Experts have warned the flu season could hit harder and later in 2021, given a year with very little flu can often mean a reduced immunity in the population, resulting in a big flu season the following year.

Dr Khorshid said flu cases in Australia were down last year because there were significant social distancing measures in place.

With "life now largely returning to normal", Australians shouldn't become complacent, he said.

"Our public hospitals are at capacity and patients are waiting longer in emergency departments, getting the flu vaccination is just as important as ever," Dr Khorshid said.

"Getting the flu shot now will better protect you from the serious prospect of having both COVID-19 and influenza at the same time.

"It is the only safe, proven, and tested way of not becoming an influenza statistic."

The influenza virus changed each year, so it was important people got the latest season's new four-strain vaccine, he said.

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General practitioners were best placed to help Australians plan how to get the flu vaccine around a COVID-19 vaccine, but guidelines stipulated a 14-day gap between the jabs.

There are two types of flu shots available this season, the standard shot and a high dose for people over 65, available through GP clinics. The shot is also available through pharmacies in the ACT, Western Australia and Victoria.

with AAP

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Australians are being urged to get their flu vaccinations now. Picture: Shutterstock

Australians are being urged to get their flu vaccinations now. Picture: Shutterstock

This story 'Winter is coming': Doctors warn of dangerous flu season first appeared on The Canberra Times.